Being 'Slightly Fat' Could Save Your Life

woman on scaleHey, you, New Year's resolution-maker! Hold it right there. Before attacking that shiny new weight loss goal by heading to the gym (likely for the first time in months or EVER, which you must know drives those of us who have been devoted on a daily basis for months or years up a wall), check this out. A new analysis of nearly three million people, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., suggests that people who are "moderately overweight" are actually better off than "normal" weight folks. As in, people classified as overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9) have a lower risk of premature death than people who are at a so-called normal weight. And among people who were over-65, even the highly obese had no extra mortality risk. Whoa. Who could have seen that coming?!

Yeah, this news is at odds with everything we've ever been told to think (around this time of year especially!). But that's what makes it utterly refreshing and important to consider.


As we launch ourselves into "New Year, New You!"-branded crash diets, extreme detoxes, grueling unrealistic workout regimens, all in an attempt to "lose five more pounds" or fit some societal "norm," it's particularly relevant information. Because this study proves that maybe carrying around those five or ten pounds you're suddenly flipping out about probably won't hurt you in the grand scheme of things. In fact! It may HELP you! Crazy, I know.

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Experts offer various stabs in the dark for why this may be the case: Docs may treat overweight people more aggressively for blood pressure or cholesterol problems, having a bit more padding may make you less prone to osteoporosis and in turn make you less likely to take a tumble, extra pounds provide energy reserves in cases of a severe illness (meaning if you are a bit overweight you may do better with heart failure or kidney failure than a thinner person), etc.

In the end, it seems that there's a very fine line between this "healthier" sort of overweight and the dive into obesity and heart risk and all that'll ail -- and worst case scenario, kill -- you. And this research won't alter any expert's opinion that we should all do whatever it takes to be the "perfect weight" for our respective heights, according to some government-issued chart, lest we get SUPERFAT and die! (Ugh.) Maybe it should. Maybe it should make us put the numbers aside and try to zero in on what really matters: wellness, longevity, strength, etc. At the very least, it should prove to us that weighing less is not necessarily, always more.

What do you make of this research? Could it change your New Year's resolution?


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